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Neil Young, Pete Townshend lead fall's big list of rocker memoirs and bios

Posted 8:08am on Saturday, Sep. 29, 2012

One never knows when and where inspiration will strike.

Neil Young's literary eureka moment happened in summer 2011 after he stubbed his toe on a rock by the swimming pool.

His little toe was broken, and it kept the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee from touring. So what's a recuperating rocker to do? Young decided to write his memoirs.

"This book is one thing that I am doing to stay off the stage," he says in Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream. "I have to slow down. That's why I am writing this book now.

"Or maybe it's because I'm not smoking weed anymore. I am a lot more focused now."

Young is one of a multitude of classic rockers with books coming out this fall. Others include Pete Townshend, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger and his fellow Rolling Stones, and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.

Let's call it Bookapalooza. Or Rock of Pages.

Here's a look at the lineup of musical memoirs and biographies.

Waging Heavy Peace

by Neil Young

Blue Rider Press, $30, in stores

Young insisted on working without a ghostwriter. It shows. Not that the book is badly written. But his life story is glued together in a random, nonlinear sequence.

There are informative stories about his days with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. His love for Pegi, his wife since 1978, and his son Ben, born a nonverbal quadriplegic, to whom he dedicates the book, comes through loud and clear. But he also devotes a lot of time to railing about technical deficiencies of contemporary digital music while promoting his own alternative audio music system. Also, who knew that Young was such a hard-core Lionel model train nerd?

Who I Am: A Memoir

by Pete Townshend

Harper, $32.50, Oct. 8

It's reassuring somehow to learn that even rock's supreme perfectionist can credit some of his success to dumb luck. Like the fact that he smashed his first guitar onstage by accident; only later did it become one of his signature concert moves. Also, if he had gotten his way, the band's name would have been the Hair.

Those are some of the stories that Townshend shares, along with tales of too many drugs, too much alcohol and too much reckless living (like the time he dove off a hotel balcony into a pool and nearly died). He also has some more explaining to do regarding that arrest on child pornography charges in 2003, which he insisted at the time was strictly research and a big misunderstanding.

Rod: The Autobiography

by Rod Stewart

Crown Archetype, $27, Oct. 23

Stewart's promise to readers: "I truly intend to hold nothing back. Forget skeletons in the closet; this one's going to be socks and knickers under the bed."

In other words, his look back at five decades in the music business will cover his hell-raising years with the Jeff Beck Group, with Faces and as a chart-topping solo artist, as well as his randy antics off the stage and the great loves of his life (including former Bond girl Britt Ekland and model Rachel Hunter).

He'll also do cross-promotion for his new CD, Merry Christmas, Baby, which drops Oct. 30.

The Rolling Stones 50

by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood

Hyperion, $60, Oct. 16

The only officially authorized book to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones is packed to the brim with unseen and rare material. Curated by the band members themselves, the book contains more than 1,000 photos and illustrations, everything from concert posters to draft record cover art to bubblegum cards, spanning every chapter in the band's history.

Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll

by Ann and Nancy Wilson, with Charles R. Cross

It Books, $27.99, in stores

Rock music's most famous sister act dishes about opening doors for female rockers in an era when the industry was rife with sexism. One highlight is the story of the sleazeball promoter who inspired the song Barracuda. Another involves the war they waged against Sarah Palin when she used Barracuda as her 2008 campaign theme song, against Heart's wishes.

Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS

by Peter Criss

Scribner, $26, Oct. 23

The longtime drummer for KISS tells his story, which includes rock superstardom, drug abuses, treatment in 1982, suicide attempts, two broken marriages and a hard-won battle with breast cancer. Also, he reveals he had a lifelong fear of dogs after being mauled at age 7. Might that be why he chose to wear cat makeup?

In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran

by John Taylor

Dutton, $27.95, Oct. 16

The bassist and co-founder of the British band that MTV put on the map recounts his wild, thrilling life -- from hanging out with icons like David Bowie and Andy Warhol to dating Vogue models and driving fast cars. But there also were troubles that came from dancing too close to the fire.

The John Lennon Letters

edited by Hunter Davies

Little, Brown, $29.99, Oct. 9

Almost 300 never-before-seen letters from the legendary former Beatle to friends, family, lovers and strangers are collected in this illuminating volume that shows a different, unguarded side of the man.

Light and Shade: Conversations With Jimmy Page

by Brad Tolinski

Crown, $26, Oct. 23

This "oral autobiography" of the intensely private, interview-shy Led Zeppelin guitarist is probably the closest he will get to penning his memoirs.

Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir

by Cyndi Lauper with Jancee Dunn

Atria, $26, in stores

The MTV darling of the 1980s writes about her climb to the top of the charts and the causes she has embraced over the years, from women's rights to fighting against HIV and AIDS.

The Future Is the Beginning: The Words and Wisdom of Bob Marley

edited by Gerald Hausman

Harmony, $16, Nov. 13

The words of the reggae legend, many unpublished in book form, were gathered in Kingston, Jamaica, where Marley lived and worked in the 1970s.

More music bios:

Purpose: An Immigrant's Story, by Wyclef Jean with Anthony Bozza (It Books, $26.99, in stores)

Mick Jagger, by Philip Norman (Ecco, $34.99, Tuesday)

Luck or Something Like It, by Kenny Rogers (William Morrow, $27.99, Tuesday)

New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters, by Nikki Van Noy (Touchstone, $25, Tuesday)

Bruce, by Peter Ames Carlin (Touchstone, $28, Oct. 30)

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